WEST JEFFERSON — As the saying goes, “good things come in threes.” To prove that, just ask the Starmount boys basketball team.
The Rams earned their third-straight regular season championship, but they didn’t stop there. By dismantling the zone defense of Ashe County, the Rams picked up their third-straight win in as many days, 69-48, and with it the championship in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference tournament.
“Probably our best game of the year,” winning coach Rocky Horton said. “Tonight we were clicking on all cylinders hitting threes, mid-range, hitting the free throws.
The stats say so as well. Starmount went 15-for-18 on the free-throw line and hit six 3-pointers on the night. By the end of the first quarter, the Rams led 25-13, and their lead grew from there. Senior forward Kyler Gregory was named the Mountain Valley Player of the Year, and he showed why with 56 points, with 19 each in the semifinals and finals. Gregory was later named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“Kyler did a good job of taking care of business when he could,” Horton said.
In all, it was a team effort, though. By hitting shots early, they forced the Huskies out of their zone defense which had worked for them in the two games prior. Sophomore Griffin Cass and senior Andrew Smythers each handled the ball well, scoring 15 and 16 points, respectively. On the other side of the ball, Brandon Prescott’s defensive play helped keep Ashe County off the board.
“We’ve worked so hard for this. I’m just so proud of all that have worked so hard for this season and to have it come to this. We’re going to enjoy it, and Monday we’ll get ready for whoever we’ve got on Tuesday,” Horton said.
It’s been an interesting year for the Rams. After starting out the season 1-4 and losing Gregory to a foot injury for a few weeks, the Rams never showed signs of quitting, and were rewarded with an eight-game winning streak. The team rallied around one another, and once Gregory came back into the lineup, they were ready to rattle off some more wins.
There were plenty of times where an unsung hero would come onto the court and deliver when the time was needed. A great example of that was junior Houston Nicks, who worked throughout the season to always be in the clutch. Sophomore Brendon Eads and freshman Ethan Barnes also played key roles in wins late in the season.
The Rams have reason to be proud of their accomplishments, but there’s still work to be done. As the No. 7 seed in the West, they’ll host North Moore Tuesday night in the opening round of the 1A tournament.
Ryan DeCosta can be reached via Twitter @rsdecosta.